by Patrick Appel
The Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) sizes up the prison population:
Jon Fasman adds important context:
PPI reckons the United States has roughly 2.4m people locked up, with most of those (1.36m) in state prisons. That is more than the International Centre for Prison Studies estimates, but it’s in the same ballpark.
Remember, though, that number is static: it does not capture the churn of people in and out of incarceration during a given year. For the population in local jails, PPI used the information in Table 1 of this report, which shows how many people were locked up in jails on June 30th 2012 (the last weekday in June), and came up with 721,654 in local jails, as well as another 22,870 immigration detainees housed in local jails under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Around 60.6% of jail inmates have been convicted; 39.4%, which includes the immigration detainees, have not been convicted, either because they had only recently been arrested or because they are awaiting trial and don’t have the money to make bail. Look one page earlier in the report, however, and you’ll see that local jails admitted a total of 11.6m people between July 1st 2011 and June 30th 2012.